Controversial ‘fetal heartbeat bill’ passes TN House, faces uncertain future in Senate


With the sponsor saying “We cannot continue to allow the slaughter of the unborn,” the Tennessee House passed what is called the “fetal heartbeat” bill Thursday morning, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.

The bill bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, but opponents have said that a heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks which is often before some women know they are pregnant.

Along with his comment about “slaughter of the unborn,” sponsor Rep. Micah Van Huss said, “the unborn needs us.”

64 other members including two Democrats and the rest Republicans voted for the bill. 

Seven Republicans were present but not voting.

The bill includes an amendment that would keep Tennessee’s current abortion law in place if the “heartbeat” measure would eventually be challenged in court.

Freshman Memphis Democrat Representative London Lamar called the heartbeat bill “inhuman, irresponsible” and “no woman should have to carry a rapist’s baby.”

Republican Lt. Governor Randy McNally has expressed concern about the heartbeat bill being challenged in court as well as the cost of doing so. He has suggested waiting to see what happens to lawsuits over similar fetal heartbeat bills in other states. 

House Democrats waived hands in protest just prior to the House vote because they felt their amendment to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest was not properly heard.

The full vote tally is as follows:

  • AYES (65) – Baum, Boyd, Bricken, Byrd, Calfee, Carter, Cepicky, Cochran, Crawford, Curcio, DeBerry, Doggett, Eldridge, Gant, Garrett, Griffey, Hall, Haston, Hawk, Helton, Hicks, Hill M., Hill T., Holsclaw, Holt, Howell, Hulsey, Hurt, Johnson C., Keisling, Kumar, Lambert, Leatherwood, Littleton, Lynn, Moody, Moon, Ogles, Powers, Ragan, Reedy, Rudd, Rudder, Russell, Sanderson, Sexton C., Sexton J., Sherrell, Smith, Sparks, Terry, Tillis, Todd, Towns, Travis, Van Huss, Vaughan, Weaver, White, Whitson, Williams, WIndle, Wright, Zachary, Casada
  • NOES (21) — Beck, Camper, Chism, Clemmons, Cooper, Dixie, Freeman, Hakeem, Hardaway, Hodges, Jernigan, Johnson G., Lamar, Love, Miller, Mitchell, Potts, Powell, Staples, Stewart, Thompson.
  • PRESENT, NOT VOTING (7) — Carr. Coley, Daniel, Dunn, Hazelwood, Lafferty, Marsh
  • NOT VOTING (6) — Faison, Farmer, Hartford, Parkinson, Ramsey, Shaw

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